It wasn’t until I was watching the first episode of Bollywood Star on SBS1 on Saturday night that I realised the level of my knowledge about Bollywood wasn’t as absent as I had thought.
That is: It’s still pretty poor, but a helluva lot better than most of the contestants they first showed. You can catch up on Ep.1 here. The show was a bit of a slow starter, but I’m hooked for the rest of it, especially anticipating the contestants landing in Mumbai and starting ‘real’ Bollywood training and testing.
The series is a modest four-part series, which helps with my commitment to watching it. If it was like the tedious, whingeing, manipulative other performance reality shows that run for way too many episodes, I would have skipped right past.
Back to my dabbling: My sister’s been a Bollywood fan for years, and has consistently pressed copies of Lagaan and Devdas on us in the hopes that we’d convert.
We never did.
Whether it was the longer-than-long dedication required to sit through the movies, or – for me – the slightly uneasy and common blend of OTT song, dance and glamour plus high tragedy and lost loves, it never drew me in that well.
My sis tends to like the old-school Bollywood films, the ones with fantastic period costumes and giant dance numbers. She owns, and encourages others to read, Shah Rukh Khan’s biography. I know I won’t ever be as dedicated as she is. I will remain a dabbler, probably in the Bollywood films that are set in more contemporary times.
In the lead up to the Bollywood Star series launch, SBS screened Salaam Namaste (2005; filmed in Melbourne). The movie’s a grand one to watch if you’re a scene-spotter (as I am). When I first moved to Melbourne, scenes from the film were being shot near Flinders Street Station. The resulting film is typically brilliant in colour, awash with melodrama and monumental coincidences. Good fun, no dull moments, and the songs/dances were catchy. Great to see a “St Kilda” that wasn’t, and appreciate the landmarks and scenery from another perspective. Some of the beach scenes may have had the benefit of brighter than blue filters but, hey, they looked superb!
The next night, after the first episode of Bollywood Star, SBS’ genius programmer scheduled Dhoom 2 (2006). Generally known as a sequel that outstrips the original, the film boasts Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai and (relatively) new heart-throb Hrithik Roshan. As you can see from the promotional poster (below), this is a slick and very pretty production.
The song/dance numbers are fabulous – so much so that the movie-theme’s refrain is now my partner’s mobile phone ringtone. Much money was spent on the production and the schmucky cops vs super-thief storyline was immediately engaging and a helluva lot of fun. The cheesiness was superb. It’s my favourite Bollywood flick so far, and it’s on par with Zoolander in terms of re-watchability.
Through the wonders of #livetweeting the movie, I even managed to bring an Indian buddy back to the Bollywood fold.
Peer pressure works in mysterious ways.